The Green Lake area, long considered the heart of the city, will soon undergo some pretty serious changes. The municipal government is currently taking bids on renovation work that will reportedly cost seven billion yuan (US$1.2 billion). Once contracts are signed, the facelift for Kunming's most popular cultural landmark — as well as several surrounding neighborhoods — is expected to last until at least 2020.
The plan — known as the "Green Lake historical and cultural area restoration project" — covers 2.1 square kilometers. It stretches out from the lake to other attractions including Zhengyi Fang (正义坊), Yuantong Shan (圆通山) and Yunnan University (云大) and includes the major roads connecting them. Designed to be completed in five parts, the first order of business is the remodeling and possible demolition of houses and businesses along alleyways adjacent to Green Lake Park.
Final details have yet to be released because the entire project remains in the tender process. However, the lanes Xiansheng Po (先生坡), Shenguan Po (沈官坡) and Jinghong Jie (景虹街) will be the first to undergo reconstruction. The "beautification" process along these roads is expected to include "facade refurbishments, utility upgrades, lighting improvements and landscaping enhancements" costing 150 million yuan (US$ 21.8 million). Once a construction company is officially hired, the work is scheduled to take less than 60 days.
Other portions of the scheme will see the restoration of several important historical residences — including the former home of Chinese Communist Party hero Zhu De (朱德). The military academy where Zhu studied in 1909, Jiangwutang (讲武堂), is also slated for large-scale improvements, as are the provincial library (云南图书馆) and the Yunnan Museum of Science and Technology (云南省科学技术馆).
Green Lake is also scheduled to receive some sort of makeover to its older buildings, although detailed proposals are unavailable. The park is obviously the focal point for all the planned construction — using existing pedestrian lanes to funnel sightseers from one historical attraction to the next. However, most news stories concerning the overall project instead discuss traffic alleviation schemes, landscaping concepts and height limits on any new buildings slated for the neighborhood.
What is clear is that Kunming is attempting to make a known tourist attraction more enticing. The Green Lake area facelift is a very expensive part of a broader strategy to make the city into a tourist destination of its own. For years, foreign and domestic visitors have used Kunming as a jumping off point for more-frequented locales in the province's south and northwest. City officials are now looking to cast a new spotlight on locally popular venues in the hopes that tourist money will be spent here in the Spring City.
Top image: China.com
Middle and bottom images: WeChat